Lucky Birthstone by Adelbert Kohn

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Lucky Birthstone Postcards by Adelbert Kohn

All of the material you have access to here -- the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic ephemera, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen -- can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world.

So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. The financial support of my Patreon subscribers -- my Patrons -- underwrites this cost.




Lucky Birthstone Ascriptions for Birth Months

Although rather plain in terms of graphics, because each image is simply a bejeweled golden horseshoe, the "Lucky Birthstone" postcard set, copyright 1907 by Adelbert Kohn of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is notable for bearing the earliest variant of The Tiffany Birthstone Poem. I know very little about the publisher Adelbert Kohn except that he was enumerated in the Federal Census of 1900 as 35 years old, born in June of 1865 in Germany, the child of a father and mother who had both been born in Germany, a resident of the United States for 18 years -- that is, since 1882, when he was 17 years old) -- and that he was living at that time on Marlton Pike in Camden, New Jersey, married, childless, a home owner, able to read and write English, and working as an "engraver" -- that is, in a printing plant.

I also know that he was most likely a relative of mine, because my maternal grandmother, born Ida Kohn, descended from a large German and Bohemian Jewish family of authors, printers, typesetters, publishers, and rabbis. The printers in our family bore the surnames Kohn, Kohen, Fraenkel, Frankl, Teomin, Arnstein, Horowitz, Hirsh, Jaffe, Shapiro, Luria, Auerbach, Juedels, Kalonymus, Drucker, and Schwartz. They can be traced back to the 1500s due to their habit of placing their names in the books they wrote, typeset, printed, and/or published. Some of the family went to America during the 19th century, and remained in the printing and publishing trades, so although i have no direct knowledge of Adelbert Kohn's genealogy, i consider him to be an "unknown uncle" of some degree.

The Lucky Horseshoe

"Many Happy Returns of the Day," a postcard printed in Germany circa 1910, with text surprinted at the bottom and outside the image area to enable its use in a variety of languages; the image includes a German farm boy and a swath of lucky four-leaf-clovers

The points-down lucky horseshoes on these postcards will likely drive my readers of Irish descent into conniptions, because in their culture, the horseshoe is only lucky if the ends point upward. They must not point downward lest "the luck will fall out." This belief is not found in Germany, from whence Adelbert Kohn no doubt emigrated. In central and southern Europe, the horseshoe generally points downward, providing protection as well as luck. Read more about this cultural difference at the Lucky W Amulet Archive Horseshoe page.

In Adelbert Kohn's images, the familiar rusty nail-heads in the old iron horseshoe have been replaced by faceted and cabochon-cut gems. His horseshoes hang from wide ribbons with fancy bows. Suspending the right-side-up ribboned horseshoe above a doorway is common in Germany, and the law of gravity makes it obvious why in Ireland and Irish America it is necessary to nail the upside-down horseshoe in place.

JANUARY

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 01, January, Garnet

"By those who in this month is born
No gems save Garnets should be worn
They will ensure them constancy,
True friendship, and felicity."

  • Month: January
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Garnet
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

FEBRUARY

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 01, February, Amethyst

"The February born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they the Amethyst will wear."

  • Month: February
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Amethyst
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

MARCH

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 03, March, Bloodstone

"Who in this world of ours, their eyes
In March first open shall be wise
In days of peril firm and brave
And wear a Bloodstone to the grave."

  • Month: March
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Bloodstone
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

APRIL

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 04, April, Diamond

"Those who from Arpil date their years
Diamonds should wear, lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow; this stone
Emblem of innocense is known."

  • Month: April
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Diamond
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

MAY

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 05, May, Emerald

"Who first behold the light of day
In Spring's sweet flowery month of May
And wear an Emerald on their breast
Shall be beloved, happy and blessed."

  • Month: May
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Emerald
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

JUNE

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 06, June, Agate

"Who come with Summer to this earth,
And owe in June their date of birth,
With ring of Agate on their hand
Can health, wealth and long life command."

  • Month: June
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Agate
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

JULY

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 07, July, Ruby

"The glowing Ruby should adorn
Those who in warm July are born;
Then will they be exempt and free
From love's doubts and anxiety."

  • Month: July
  • Zodiac Sign: '--
  • Birthstone: Ruby
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

AUGUST

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 08 August, Sardonyx

"Wear a Sardonyx or for thee
No conjugal felicity.
The August born, without this stone
Tis said, must live unloved and lone."

  • Month: August
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Carnelian
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery:A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow. .

SEPTEMBER

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 09, September, Sapphire

"All those born when Autumn leaves
Are rustling in September's breeze
A Sapphire on their brow should bind
'Twill cure diseases of the mind."

  • Month: September
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Sapphire
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

OCTOBER

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 10, October, Opal

"October's child is born of woe,
And life's vicissitudes must know;
But lay an Opal on her breast,
And hope will lull the woes to rest."

  • Month: October
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Opal
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

NOVEMBER

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 11, November, Topaz

"Who first comes to this world below
With drear November's fog and snow
Should prize the Topaz's amber hue;
Emblem of friends and lovers true."

  • Month: November
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Topaz
  • Birth Flower: '--

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

DECEMBER

Lucky Birthstone Postcards: 12, December, Turquoise

"If cold December gave you birth,
The month of snow and ice and mirth,
Place on your hand a Turquoise blue;
Success will bless what'er you do."

  • Month: December
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Ruby
  • Birth Flower: --

Additional Imagery: A golden horseshoe suspended from a ribbon tied with a bow.

The Poems

The poems on these cards consist in part of a character analysis and in part of a recommendation for a lucky amulet stone. They follow the familiar sing-song pattern i call "the English Enchantment." This scansion, with a variety of wording, is found on many fortune telling tea cups, as seen at our sister-site, The Mystic Tea Room in the page about Poetry on Cups and Saucers. Dating back at least to the Renaissance and the writing of William Shakespeare, such verses are found to this day in the metrical magical spells of the Anglo-Saxon people. In this case the texts hew closely to The Tiffany Birthstone Poem of 1870.

Interestingly, in Kohn's variant, The Tiffany Birthstone Poem sheds some of its 19th century formality and makes way for a slightly more liberal political agenda. (This is in keeping with my family's history as well.) In Kohn's hands, the patristic slant of the original text, with its references to the bejewelled one as a "her" and to a woman becoming a "wife," has been completely eliminated. The poem, having been de-gendered, is suitable for all people. No longer are we looking at expensive parures and pendants for Tiffany's wealthy women. Now anyone can wear a lucky birthstone, including a man, who perhaps might select a modestly jeweled pair of cufflinks, a tie-clasp, or a watch-fob.

Kohn made other changes to the poem that affect the mood or tone of the verses, rendering them less admonitory and more pleasing to the birth-native of several months. January's "fidelity" is transformed to "felicity," for instance. But with these changes comes the inevitable ruination of the meter. The line "Shall be a loved and a loving wife" is perfect iambic pentameter, but the substituted "Shall be beloved, happy and blessed" is just hash.

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Thank you.

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
Your Wate and Fate